What is here is the bastardation of an orginal art form. Those that did watercolors would be upset if a person working in oils would come along and say they did it better and copy their work via the oil medium. I know with my metal art, I hear almost daily that it could be reproduced in plastics. some of the people here have a few of those metal ornaments I have made this summer. Nothing would replace the metal and give the same feel. It is more than the content, it is the way it is done, and the soul of the person who puts their time and effort into it. To just say the end product is all that matters is BS. I have spent this summer cranking down 6 guage copper wire into long thin strips so that I could stay true to the old renaisance way of metal smithing. It is about the process as much as the end product. I could have them made in China for a fraction of what I spend on them, and have time left over. They would be cookie cutter art objects.
As for Walker Evans he was a mentor to a photography prof of mine. Timo Pujenen worked for Walker for several years learning from the man. I was fortunate enough to hold and look through handmade small books that Walker produced of his images. They were stunning. Timo now has pretty much given up on analog in favor of digital since it is easier for him to do. Easy in that he didn't like the darkroom work either, and now he can avoid it. That may be more telling of what Walker might have done. The influence was seeded into Timo long ago.
Recently running concurrently with the Weston exhibit in Omaha was an exhibit of very large. iconic sports images, all reproduced as inkjets. Included were a few vintage images. I don't remember the exact ones but think in the same vein as Babe Ruth giving his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. The images had been sharpened, contrast adjsuted and printed. Yes they looked very modern, in some cases almost like people in period costumes but a few were pretty stunning as if someone had gone back in time with a modern camera to get a picture of Gehrig or Dimaggio.
I guess all I can say about it is it will be something we will all have to get used to.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Somehow, Walker Evans and inkjet just don't go together. The mental image of a beautiful, B&W print coming out of a cheap, WalMart printer is just too much.
Is Van Gogh's ear important to you?
Certainly not to me!
I could not care if he had problems during his life, cut off his ear, never sold a painting in his life (except one to his brother - or brother-in-law???)
What I know and love about Van Gogh is the content in his paintings. Not just the technique of his brushstrokes but his ability (through color, composition and form) to bring out emotions and deep feelings.
For me the same goes for sculpture, music, and other art forms, incl.photography. Of course I appreciate craftsmanship, honed skills and how a work of art is / was constructed... and I do love well made photographic prints and still have problems with inkjet or other computer generated prints...
But, when it all is said and done it still comes down to one thing only: content and how the content reveals and communicates thoughts, ideas and feelings!
A cheap WalMart printer? I don't recall reading that in the article.
Originally Posted by roteague
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I couldn't disagree with this more. In my opinion you can't separate the content from the craft. If you do, you have something else other than the original. I am someone who appreciates impressionist paintin enormously. To think that you could change the texture of the bruysh stroke, and have the same thing...no.
Originally Posted by per volquartz
One of the really beautiful aspects of photography that initiallydrew me to it was its sense of physical, tactile process. Sure ultimately,the final product is the culmination of processes undertaken for the goal of expression. In the end, I agree that it is the work that needs to do the final "speaking".
But the expression lives in the process as well. It is ingrained in it. In photography, it starts at the negative, A negative is not merely a matrix. It is a product of process influenced by the mind of the artist. I don't make negatives haphazardly. I influence the materials with a knowledge of their strengths and shortcomings. A negative can be a beautiful object. And it is the mind and craft inherent in its making that influence its beauty, both physically and as it relates to the goal of the final print. This is probably my biggest qualm with digital imaging. It has a way of sanitzing process to the point where it becomes irrelevent. How is this photography? It isn't.
Well said Don...
This discussion / debate is great from my point of view. It does center around fundamentals of what is important in art - or what is perceived as art...
And of course one should not change the brush strokes of a painting -
And to some extent you may be right in saying that one cannot separate the artist from the artwork. If Van Gogh had not had a troubled mind most likely his art work could have been very different.
Your argument however is not true across the board. As an example take the works of Marcel Duchamp. His bicycle wheel exhibed as art. Where is the honed craft? Where is the planned composition? Where is color and "hands-on committment to craftsmanship? Well there is none. The bicycle placed in a museum started a new art form, "ready mades"... Some people have trouble with this I know, but the result has been a great debate over what art "is" or "should be". Personally I believe that art should have no limitation and can be whatever it needs to be in order to create universal feelings. As long it does not create physical pain...
The problem as I see it is that the "processing" by these guys has diminished the content of Walker's art. It's not as if they took Walker's orginal negatives and reprinted them. Rather, they digitized them and used software manipulation - followed by a printing process based on ink jet technology.
Originally Posted by per volquartz
To me, the resultant product is no long Walker's art.
You speak about content. But the content of Walker's images was to portray the plight of the poor during the Great Depression - taken contemporarily in that time.
To now use high technology to obtain "deeper and richer tones" is to remove these pictures from their place in time. And by "prettying them up" they no longer convey the social message that Walker was seeking to tell.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I get steamed that these guys chose to manipulate documentary photos - it's fraudulent to do so.
All of the Evans' originals I've seen were first rate prints. I don't know who printed them, but they're magnificent. They may be straight forward, but they do far more than just "the job".
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
What it reminds me of is an article in a printing trade publication about travelling museum exhibits. Seems some museums are concerned about the fragile nature and expense of shipping rare paintings. The idea they were trying to put forth, with limited success, was to have same size reproductions of the original paintings made by some form of commercial inkjet (expensive commercial machines, not Epson, not WalMart). Then the reproductions would become the travelling exhibit going from one museum to another. I would suppose their insurance underwriters liked this approach too.
As a painter, I appreciate seeing the brush strokes and texture of original works. I can also appreciate the compositional skill, the ideas behind a work of art, or simply the compelling aspects of an image. If I were to view reproductions (litho, inkjet, gravure, other) of originals, I could still enjoy them; unfortunately I would miss the brush strokes and texture, and in that way lose the feeling of how the painting was created. Painting is very physical, and most who learn and do oil paintings can grasp the technique of the artist when seeing an original.
Photography usually has one original, which is that frame of film containing an image. Any print is a reproduction of that original, even if it is rendered differently (burning, dodging, toning, other). Be aware this is my opinion, and I have no need for anyone to agree with me. I am also stubborn, so not point in trying to change my opinion . . . . . Anyway, I would enjoy seeing prints/reproductions that somehow conveyed how the images would have appeared near the time they were captured. So if Walker Evans used B/W film, I would prefer seeing silver prints, maybe even using older style papers, and somewhat near the sizes originally envisioned. Perhaps even new newsprint runs of some of his images, to get a feel what some of them would have been like in a newspaper. Of his Polaroid works, I would really enjoy seeing the originals, especially since I have seen them in a couple books already; reproductions would not give me a better idea of these.
So reproductions of art can get those works in front of more people, but it then becomes more like IKEA, Z-Gallery, or one of those shopping mall places that sell reproductions of images. Sure, I get an idea of composition, or compelling aspects, and I can still appreciate the images. However, just because a reproduction method might be higher technology, or more tedious, would not make it any better.
The other issue is image sizes. It is the current trend in some places to make vastly huge prints, far beyond what the original photographer would have expected. I think that is also untrue to the original vision. In such a situation, it would not matter to me if the larger print was a silver print, or some other industrial method (computer or not) . . . to me the impact of the image would be to match the expectations of what Walker Evans expected as final printing sizes.
Final opinion on inkjet prints: while someone could spend $30K or more for a ColorSpan or similar industrial grade machine, in reality these machines are little different from a commercial press. If someone had a $200K to $500K Heidelberg press, for even better reproduction quality, it still would be just a reproduction. Whether commercial printing, or industrial inkjet, or even desktop, these machines only emulate continuous tone; put a printers loupe on any of them and the dot patterns are there to be seen. I have seen some truly wonderful commercial prints of B/W originals, but they still look different than a silver print. These are fine for reproductions, but I have trouble accepting them as originals.
A G Studio